This project comprises a series of workshops working towards final publication of an edited collection on the history of pharmaceutical manufacturing, distribution, and consumption in modern East Asia. Scholarly research on the medical history of East Asia often remains segregated into studies of “modern” medicine and studies of its “traditional” counterparts. Moreover, despite the extent to which Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Tibetan medical cultures have been shaped by cultural and commercial exchange within the East Asian region, historical scholarship remains fragmented along national borderlines. This project takes up the challenge of assembling the pieces of this puzzle, aiming to elucidate pharmacotherapy as a sociotechnical system composed of medical cultures, practices, and products, moving across time and space and becoming subtly or dramatically transformed as they crossed the geopolitical borders separating nation states and the cultural/chronological border between tradition and modernity.

Date: June 23 – 24, 2018
Venue: CPD-4.17, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong


CRF Project “Making Modernity in East Asia: Technologies of Everyday Life, 19th – 21st Centuries” (RGC CRF The University of Hong Kong C7011-16G), Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong


June 23, 2018

Session 1: Production, Circulation, Consumption
9:30 am Opening Remarks
Daniel Trambaiolo (The University of Hong Kong)

10:00 am Xiaomeng Liu (The University of Hong Kong)
Places that turned grasses into drugs: Commerce, Vernacular Knowledge and Medicinal Marketplaces in Nineteenth and early Twentieth century China

10:30 am Hoi-eun Kim (Texas A&M University)
Adulterated Intermediaries: Peddlers, Pharmacists, and the Patent Medicine Industry in Colonial Korea (1910 – 1945)

11:00 am Timothy Yang (Pacific University)
The Pharmaceutical Business, Empire, and Modern Japan

11:30 am John DiMoia (Seoul National University)
From Remedies to Mass Distribution of anthelminthics: the Korean pharmaceutical industry and anti-parasite campaigns, 1964-early 1980s

12:00 noon Discussion

Session 2: Substitutions, Reformulations, Transformations
2:00 pm Lijing Jiang (Science History Institute)
“Where the wild drugs are”: Bernard Read (1887 – 1949)’s Chinese Pharmacology between texts, markets, and biochemical assays

2:30 pm Liz Chee (National University of Singapore)
Reformulating “New Drugs” within Traditional Chinese Medicine: Inside Guangzhou Huahai Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd.

3:00 pm Soyoung Suh (Dartmouth College)
Breast Cancer in Korea: The Reception of New Knowledge, Practices, and Commodities, 1800 – 1930s

4:00 pm Discussion

June 24, 2018

Session 3: Problems of Regulation and Global Perspectives
9:30 am Po-Hsun Chen (National Yang-Ming University)
Encounter the Risk of Herbs: Aristolochic Acid Controversy in Taiwan and the Globalization of Chinese Herbs

10:00 am Julia Yongue (Hosei University)
Japanese Traditional Medicines Go Global: Attempting to solve the problem of health inequalities through “new” drug development

10:30 am Wenhua Kuo (National Yang-Ming University)
Between Regulatory Convergence and Divergence: developing herbal cures from ordinary food

11:00 am Discussion

Photo Highlights